Roger Mowry Tavern, once a 17th century Providence landmark

Roger Mowry (Morey) born on 16 May 1610 in Drimpton, Dorset, England. He emigrated to America in 1628 on the ship Abigail, lived in Boston, Plymouth, and Salem, Massachusetts and later moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he built a house and a tavern in about 1653 in a uniquely Rhode Island style known as Stone ender that had been known as Olney House and Abbott House.


Roger Mowry was an inn-keeper. The inn was the meeting place of the town council, the building served as a church and local prison as well. Mowry was made freeman in 1655. (Drawings from Isham and Brown (1895) Rhode Island Houses: An Historical and Architectural Study)


It was originally constructed as a one-and-a-half story single room house with a chamber upstairs. By 1711 the house was expanded with a two-story lean-to by 1711. At unknown later date, the top of the roof of the original house was raised up further.


In 1676 during King Philip’s War, Indians destroyed nearly every building in Providence, including Roger’s friend Roger Williams’ house, by fire. A handful of buildings survived, either by luck or design, among them the Mowry Tavern. The original portion of the house was restored by Norman Isham by 1895. The Roger Mowry Tavern was the oldest house in Providence, and the last from the 17th century, until it was demolished in 1900.


Roger Mowry died at Providence on January 5, 1666/7. The Union Cemetery at North Smithfield houses a large monument to Roger and his descendants. The location of the house at North Main and Abbot Street is now a parking lot for University Oral-Maxillofacial that sits across from the North Burial Ground.